Stuck with NCLB: Why no waiver for NH?, UL Editorial, 2/10/12

posted Feb 15, 2012, 8:43 AM by Bill Duncan

2/15/12 DNHPE Comment: This is probably the view of a lot of Republican legislators who think "waiver" is almost a synonym for opting out of NCLB.  It's not at all, as this statement from NHDOE makes clear.  The bill is currently "Laid upon the table" for further analysis, but could be resurrected any time. 

Stuck with NCLB: Why no waiver for NH?
Why is New Hampshire sticking with No Child Left Behind?

On Thursday, the Obama administration announced that 10 states were granted waivers from the regulatory burdens of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Massachusetts was among the 10. New Hampshire was not — because New Hampshire did not even seek a waiver.

How could it be that Massachusetts would wriggle out from under some of this regulatory yoke, but New Hampshire would not?

Among the federal requirements that Massachusetts and the nine other states got waived is this huge one: all students must be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Simply put, that is an impossibility. Massachusetts officials created their own school-rating system based on state tests. Underperforming schools are labeled as such and receive targeted aid, as under No Child Left Behind, but the standards are more realistic and the aid better targeted.

Though public school officials throughout New Hampshire have complained for years about the burdens and unrealistic expectations of NCLB, the Lynch administration did not take the opportunity presented last year when President Obama announced that every state could apply for a waiver.

This is the same hands-off approach the Lynch administration took to Obamacare. Though New Hampshire business owners and legislators warned of the enormous costs the federal health care law would impose on businesses and the state, Lynch never stood up to the Obama administration.

The Lynch administration has some answering to do. Either Gov. Lynch or Education Commissioner Virginia Barry needs to explain to the public, and to school administrators and teachers, why the administration opted to stick with the massively unpopular NCLB rather than come up with our own accountability system.